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Doel Reed, Sun Patterns, Dark Canyon, 1979, Oklahoma State University Museum of Art, Stillwater, OK, DRC 2011.015.001.

OSU Museum of Art presents ‘Sun Patterns, Dark Canyon: The Paintings and Aquatints of Doel Reed’

Monday, June 28, 2021

Media Contact: Victoria Berry | Director and Chief Curator | 405-744-2782 |

Opening July 6, Sun Patterns, Dark Canyon: The Paintings and Aquatints of Doel Reed explores the art and career of the highly successful 20th-century American printmaker and painter Doel Reed (1894-1985). 

Best known today as a Southwestern artist and “master of the aquatint,” Reed began his career in the Midwest and moved to Oklahoma in the 1920s. He was a professor of art at Oklahoma State University for more than 30 years and spent the latter part of his career in Taos, New Mexico. This retrospective highlights his prints, paintings and drawings from the 1920s to the 1970s.

In the 1930s, Reed became a master printmaker, lecturing widely on the aquatint technique. Like many other Depression-era artists, he embraced Regionalism, which favored rural and Midwestern subjects. By the end of the 1940s, he enjoyed a national reputation and had developed his signature style, a conservative modernism characterized by geometric abstraction, the dramatic use of lights and darks, and a focus on emotional impact. Reed began summering in the Taos artists’ colony in the mid-1940s and moved to New Mexico in 1959. The mountainous topography, geology and history of the state were an endless source of inspiration to Reed.

“I still remember my initial encounter with Reed’s studio — it was a little dusty but nonetheless nearly untouched, with papers and Reed’s eyeglasses still laid out on his desk, as if the artist would soon return,” said guest curator Dr. Rebecca Brienen. “As I learned more about Doel Reed and his contributions to American art, it became clear that he was overdue for a new scholarship and an exhibition.” 

Sun Patterns, Dark Canyon demonstrates how Reed was both influenced by and contributed to national and international artistic trends over his long and prolific career. Included in the exhibition are more than 60 works by Reed and his contemporaries. The exhibition also features personal items such as Reed’s diary from World War l and examples of his aquatint plates. An exhibition catalogue will be available.

Sun Patterns, Dark Canyon will be on view until Oct. 30.

Funding for this exhibition is provided by Kent and Jeanette Young, the Doel Reed Center, Neal and Lora Buck, and the Vaughn Vennerberg II Endowed Chair fund in Art. The accompanying catalogue is funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art and the Carl and Marilynn Thoma Family Foundation.

For more information about the OSU Museum of Art, visit or call 405-744-2780. The museum is located at 720 S. Husband St. in downtown Stillwater. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays – Saturdays. Admission is free, thanks to generous support from the OSU Museum of Art Advocates.  

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